Associate Professor David Barker

BSc(Hons)/PhD (Sydney)

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Associate Professor



  • 2001 - University of Sydney, Australia, PhD, Organic Chemistry
  • 1997 - University of Sydney, Australia, BSc (Hons 1st Class), Honours in Organic Chemistry

Previous appointments

  • 2001-2003 University of New South Wales– National Health & Medical Research Council of Australia Research Associate

Research | Current

My research focuses on the synthesis of organic molecules and whilst doing so exploring fundamental chemical principles to aid the development of efficient synthetic methods, the preparation of novel molecular structures and to answer complex biological questions.

At present my research group is working on number of different research areas including, the development of new synthetic methodologies enabling he preparation of photo-activated DNA-binding molecules, the synthesis of bioactive lignans (plant derived natural products) and the synthesis of complex alkaloids as novel treatments for dementia and cancer. Along with this my research group is active in the development of new synthetic methods to prepare organic molecules rich in heteroatoms, such as nitrogen, oxygen and sulfur. I also am active in a number of national and international multidisciplinary research projects working on areas such as the development of new polymeric materials, natural product synthesis and determination and the synthesis of labelled wine components for wine profiling.

My current research focuses on numerous areas including

  • Synthesis of 1,4-benzodioxane lignans biological active and have a wide range of activites including cytotoxicity, acting as alpha-or beta-blocking agents useful in antidepression or antihypertension therapy.
  • Synthesis of bioactive heterocycles such as thieno- and furano-pyridines. These compounds have been shown to inhibit a number of important enzymes involved in cell regulation and are being analysed for their anticancer activity.
  • Synthesis of complex dineolignans, which have wide ranging biological activities including HIF-1 inhibition (an anticancer target) and neuroprotective properties.
  • Synthesis of novel heterocyclic frameworks based on substituted pyrroles.
  • Synthesis of complex bioactive marine natural products that contain substituted pyrroles. Current molecules of interest are: Trikentramine, the Mukanadins, Lamellarins and Kottamides
  • Synthesis and modulation of bioactive compounds derived from grape material
  • Synthesis of novel polymeric materials including advanced conducting polymers and polymers from renuable resources
  • Synthesis of labelled natural products for use in quantitative analysis


Postgraduate supervision

Current Students

Eddie Chan, PhD 2013- (with Prof. Jadranka Travas-Sejdic)

Eunkyung (Kelly) Jung, PhD 2013-

Nina Duhamel, PhD 2013- (with Dr Bruno Fedrizzi)

Samuel Davidson, Phd 2014-

Rueben White, PhD 2014-

Rebecca Jelley, PhD 2015- (with Dr Bruno Fedrizzi)

Shi Min Tan, PhD 2015- (with Dr Bruno Fedrizzi)

Chae Yeon Jeon, PhD 2015-

Stephen Lo, PhD 2016-

Min Wang PhD 2016- (with Prof. Jadranka Travas-Sejdic)

Hua Lyu PhD 2017- (with Dr. Bruno Fedrizzi)

Andrew Twidle, MSc 2015- 

Natalie Haverkate, MSc 2016-

Harpreet Kaur, MSc 2016-

Ziyao Wan, MSc 2016-

Emily Paulin MSc 2017-

Previous Students


Sok Teng (Amy) Tong (2009), Kirsten Goodall (2010), Kevin Sparrow (2011), Gul Shahzada Khan (2011), Claire Rye (2011), Glenn Archibald (2011), Anupama Rao Gulur Srinivas (2013), Benjamin Dickson (2013), Emma Dickson (2013), Nora Dittrich (2014), Lisa Pilkington (2015), Michelle van Rensburg (2016), Mona Damavandi (2017)


Christopher Ritchie (2005), Kirsten Goodall (2006), Anna Mai (2006), Joy Min-Chih Hung (2012), Soo-Min (Emma) Song (2012), Stephen Lo (2015)


Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Damavandi, M., Pilkington, L. I., Whitehead, K. A., Wilson-Nieuwenhuis, J., McBrearty, J., Dempsey-Hibbert, N., ... Barker, D. (2018). Poly(para-phenylene ethynylene) (PPE)- and poly(para-phenylene vinylene) (PPV)-poly[(2-(methacryloyloxy)ethyl) trimethylammonium chloride] (PMETAC) graft copolymers exhibit selective antimicrobial activity. European Polymer Journal, 98, 368-374. 10.1016/j.eurpolymj.2017.11.044
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Lisa Pilkington
  • Zafar, A., Sari, S., Leung, E., Pilkington, L. I., van Rensburg, M., Barker, D., & Reynisson, J. (2017). GPCR Modulation of Thieno[2,3-b]pyridine Anti-Proliferative Agents. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 22 (12).10.3390/molecules22122254
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Johannes Reynisson, Ayesha Zafar, Euphemia Leung, Lisa Pilkington, Michelle Van Rensburg
  • Binsaleh, N. K., Wigley, C. A., Whitehead, K. A., van Rensburg, M., Reynisson, J., Pilkington, L. I., ... Dempsey-Hibbert, N. C. (2017). Thieno[2,3- b ]pyridine derivatives are potent anti-platelet drugs, inhibiting platelet activation, aggregation and showing synergy with aspirin. European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry10.1016/j.ejmech.2017.11.014
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Johannes Reynisson, Lisa Pilkington
  • Baek, P., Aydemir, N., An, Y., Chan, E., Sokolova, A., Nelson, A., ... Travas-Sejdic, J. (2017). Molecularly engineered intrinsically healable and stretchable conducting polymers. Chemistry of Materials, 29 (20), 8850-8858. 10.1021/acs.chemmater.7b03291
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jadranka Travas-Sejdic, Duncan McGillivray
  • Kerr-Phillips, T. E., Aydemir, N., Chan, E. W. C., Barker, D., Malmstro M, J., Plesse, C., & Travas-Sejdic, J. (2017). Conducting electrospun fibres with polyanionic grafts as highly selective, label-free, electrochemical biosensor with a low detection limit for non-Hodgkin lymphoma gene. Biosensors & bioelectronics, 100, 549-555. 10.1016/j.bios.2017.09.042
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jadranka Travas-Sejdic, Jenny Malmstrom
  • Davidson, S. J., Pearce, A. N., Copp, B. R., & Barker, D. (2017). Total Synthesis of (-)-Bicubebin A, B, (+)-Bicubebin C and Structural Reassignment of (-)-cis-Cubebin. Organic letters10.1021/acs.orglett.7b02644
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Brent Copp, Norrie Pearce, Sam Davidson
  • Twidle, A. M., Suckling, D. M., Seal, A. G., Fedrizzi, B., Pilkington, L. I., & Barker, D. (2017). Identification of in situ flower volatiles from kiwifruit (Actinidia chinensis var. deliciosa) cultivars and their male pollenisers in a New Zealand orchard. Phytochemistry, 141, 61-69. 10.1016/j.phytochem.2017.05.011
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Bruno Fedrizzi, Max Suckling, Lisa Pilkington
  • Cadelis, M. M., Bourguet-Kondracki, M.-L., Dubois, J., Kaiser, M., Brunel, J. M., Barker, D., & Copp, B. R. (2017). Structure-activity relationship studies on thiaplidiaquinones A and B as novel inhibitors of Plasmodium falciparum and farnesyltransferase. Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry, 25 (16), 4433-4443. 10.1016/j.bmc.2017.06.029
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Melissa Cadelis, Brent Copp


Contact details

Primary location

SCIENCE CENTRE 301 - Bldg 301
Level 6, Room 627B
New Zealand

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